Iranian president says human rights depend on "world
ROME, March 9 (AFP) - Iranian President Mohammad Khatami told Italian
political leaders Tuesday that human rights can only be guaranteed in "a
world in balance" and called for the strengthening of international
Khatami, the first Iranian leader to visit western Europe since the
1979 Islamic revolution, was speaking at the Italian parliament, against
a backdrop of protests by thousands of Iranians living in exile in Europe.
He said: "One can and must reinforce regional and international
equilibrium and put an end to the increasing weakness of international
organisations such as the United Nations."
Calling for a "stable peace," he said "a united world,
founded on peace and balance, cannot be one whose heart is made up of the
unlimited dominance of the great powers, nor one where divisions and oppression
Khatami also proposed "reciprocal collaboration between the Islamic
world and Iran, admitting that the Middle East must face up to its "serious
problems" that "threaten world peace" and undermine efforts
for regional coexistence.
He said solutions should be sought within "the framework of regional
and world cooperation, with the involvement of countries which are opposed
to corrupt practices and war and which respect human rights."
Khatami arrived early Tuesday in Rome where he was met by Italian Foreign
Minister Lamberto Dini before meeting President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro.
Before leaving Tehran, Khatami, who is accompanied by Foreign Minister
Kamal Kharazi and Mines and Metals Minister Eshagh Jahanghri, said he hoped
his trip would lead to better relations with Italy and Europe.
The trip is to focus on economic relations at a time when Iran is suffering
from a slump in the price of its main export commodity, oil.
Tehran newspapers Tuesday hailed the trip as a turning point in relations
between Iran and Europe, which has resisted joining the United States in
its campaign to isolate the Islamic regime for its alleged support of terrorism.
Khatami is due to meet Prime Minister Massimo d'Alema on Wednesday and
Pope John Paul II on Thursday.
He is scheduled to visit France next month.